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Focus | February 15, 2018

Natural trend

Understatement, uniqueness and authenticity are the main characteristics of these glasses made from natural materials. On a quest for harmony, beauty and much more besides…

words Alessandra Albarello

When we talk about nature, we instantly envisage a very specific lifestyle. It speaks of a privileged relationship with the environment and a choice of objects that belong to a sphere bordering on the artisanal. For example, there are the glasses that have been exploring frontiers in terms of new materials for many years, being transformed into sensory experiences. The idea is to go back to the origins, to rediscover the authenticity and above all, the beauty of imperfection, which makes each model unique. Are these not the materials from which glasses were once made? Now we are no longer content with imitations, and the choice of glasses made of wood, horn or something else becomes exclusive, because caring for them also involves a certain amount of commitment. That’s not all. It is also necessary to have a healthy dose of hedonism and understanding of the object, with an idea and responsibility that have to last over time. After all, there is no reason why these things cannot be passed on. Like jewellery, for example. These are therefore, not just glasses. They are more than mere accessories. The Rigards brand knows something about this and has always focused on models made from sustainable materials, taking a large part of its inspiration from Japan. The careful craftsmanship used to mould the natural horn almost recalls the ancient tradition of the Inuits, who carved their protective masks from this material. There is a lot of work and a knowledge of handicrafts that can be shared and transmitted through ancient gestures. Rigards has therefore taken its beauty to an extreme, with scratches and special processes. It has illuminated its creations by combining metals such as silver, and has also made provisions for their care by providing instructions for how to clean them and which products to use. It has also gone in search of other aesthetic approaches and other emotions. It has gone beyond the boundaries with bold and futuristic, mask-like glasses, featuring unique lenses held in place by a wooden structure: these were nominated for the Silmo d’Or 2017.

Wood is the other natural material par excellence when it comes to eyewear. Warm and pleasant to the touch, it is comfortable on the skin and is above all, familiar. We find ourselves surrounded by objects made of wood on a daily basis; including furniture, tools, accessories and even entire houses; all of which are given their value by the creativity of designers and architects, and the skill and experience of artisans and carpenters. Sometimes the added value is invisible, and it is in the field of natural materials that research becomes especially fundamental. This is a completely different approach, as it deals with living materials that breathe, with particular characteristics that must be respected and specific rules for maintenance that need to be followed. This is done in order to enhance their beauty and prolong their lifespan. The latest buffalo horn creations by Hoffmann Natural Eyewear rely on true virtuosity, as in the case of the double circles created through a skilful play on contrasting colour inlays, made possible through the meeting of contemporary appeal and the know-how of the German company, which will celebrate its first 40 years in 2018. An other thing that makes the brand special is the keen attention it pays to sustainability, and therefore to the sourcing of the buffalo horn used. Traceability of the material and ethics, as well as a responsibility towards the environment, are the fundamental principles on which Blyszak is based: only using ethically sourced water buffalo horn, combined with metal. The collection brings out the pure beauty and modernity of this ancient material. Just four essential forms of sunglasses and prescription glasses express the London brand’s vintage inspiration: the Signature (oval), III (square), IV (large round) and V (large square). The Manufacturing is meticulous and lengthy, since the preparation of the horn alone involves a process that lasts three days, to which are added a further 24 hours to finish each pair of glasses by hand. Time and the irreplaceable work of humans are the intrinsic qualities making these accessories so precious.